Before I jet off on holidays back to Australia I wanted to share with you what is making me happy at the moment, the development of my sci-fi comedy web series New Eden.
The sci-fi comedy web series New Eden follows Murray and Hamilton, two colonists aboard a starship bound for a new world to call home. That was the plan at least until they crashed … on the wrong planet! Escaping in a Life-Pod Murray and Hamilton find themselves alone and thrust right back to the bottom of the food chain on a strange primordial world filled with creatures determined to have them for dinner. Constantly at odds with each other but forced to work together, Murray and Hamilton use their quick wits and the random crew supplies they find scattered across the planet to defend themselves as they search for food, shelter and a way off this rock. Along the way they come across Keith, a mad Scotsman and former ships engineer who has gone completely native, and the calculating but socially inept Ukrainian black marketeer Ivana. Combining physical comedy, witty banter and gross out humour, New Eden is targeted at sci-fi fan, young adults and anyone who wants to see cool frick’n monsters make grown men poo their pants.
I first had the notion for New Eden (previously called Planet Strange) around mid 2009. At that stage it was nothing more than a funny little scene in my head of an odd couple, Murray and Hamilton, marooned on a strange planet arguing over who pressed the red button. Inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars it amused me because it was about as far from Roddenberry’s altruism or Lucas’ epic heroism as you could get.
From that first idea I wrote a sketch and then later expanded it out into thirty-odd pages and had it read at my local writers group, Script Tank. After that it kind of just sat there in the back of mind and the bottom of the drawer while I pursue other projects that I thought were more worthwhile. New Eden didn’t stay dormant for long though. I picked it up again when I started to develop it as a low-fi live action + vfx web series with a comedy director mate of mine back in Australia. Due to nobody’s fault that didn’t pan out but it did help kick along New Eden’s development.
From there I decided to develop it as an animated web series. I advertised for an animator, tried out a few and finally found Freek Van Haagen, a Dutch animator and illustrator. Freek’s take on the characters grabbed me instantly and over the period of 2-3 months we talked and shunted sketches and scripts back and forth as we developed New Eden further. It took a while for us to both feel each other out but it has been great to discover that we have the same taste in comedy and can be brutally honest with each other, which is vital in any creative working relationship.
It was about the end of February when we discovered we were ready to start work on our five minute pilot, which was daunting and I was beginning to wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew. Nevertheless I pushed ahead, held some auditions for voice actors and managed to secure my dream cast and quickly found myself re-inspired by their enthusiasm and excitement for the project.
At every turn I keep finding more and more reasons to do New Eden than not and this spirit of just cracking on has filled me an incredible amount of joy and satisfaction. All it has cost Freek and myself to date is our own time, energy and enthusiasm. I have a cast of great comedic actors who are not only happy to donate their time but also champing at the bit to record their characters and a great sound designer who I worked with on my radio sketches who is equally excited for the opportunity and kind enough to donate his time and energy as well.
Coming from a TV production background and as someone who grew up always writing and making stuff, this has been the first time in a long while that I’ve felt like my two halves (writing and production) have been able to come together. As I mentioned in my last blog post, nowadays there is more opportunities and less barriers than ever before for people to see their work realised and I personally can’t endorse this approach enough to anyone who’s considering it.
I would never knock back any opportunities that came my way but at the moment it just feels right to be doing this now. One of my goals this year was to “get work finished and out into the world” and all I can think is that sometimes the best opportunities are the ones you create yourself.
Freek and I have a production plan and style in place that will allow us to roll out episodes in a timely fashion and both see great potential in the project. At the moment we are having a blast working on the storyboards and discussing the finer points of pratfalls, comic timing and how best to pull off a vomit gag!
My aim for New Eden is to see it picked up, go to series and to get people paid. From there I hope that it can be a showcase piece that will lead to more work and more opportunities for everyone. So you can expect more posts about New Eden over the coming year as I continue to share my joy of this crazy process.